4 Simple Yoga Stretches for Back Pain

Article by Eryn Kirkwood

Three days ago, my boyfriend threw his back out. He was doing some work around the lawn, felt a twinge, and three hours later was flat on his back, knees supported by a bolster, icing his lumbar on and off.  It wasn’t pretty, and he wasn’t impressed. An active guy by nature and basically a virgin to back pain, the debilitating experience was both humbling and exasperating.

“Luckily,” I have decades of experience with chronic low back pain, and I’m a yoga teacher J, so he was in good hands.

Depending on the nature of the injury, this 3-posture sequence should help prevent future incidents from occurring and bring some much-needed relief in the acute stage. Remember: always to pay attention to your breath, as it is your gauge for tuning into your nervous system and knowing how far to go in a given posture.

A few important details about each pose:

  1. Cobra Pose. Note: the hands are lifted off the floor. This is to ensure you’re engaging the spinal extensors to move into the pose, and not pushing with the arms, which can create more pain. Only lift as high as you can without pushing into the hands. Hold for 3 breaths and rest, right ear on the mat, arms alongside the body. Repeat.
  2. Sphynx Roll Up. Properly done, you’ll target abdominal strength here. Pressing into your forearms, draw the belly to the spine, rounding the shoulder blades towards the sky. Soften your jaw.
  3. Child’s Pose. If you don’t have a “red bolster” like the picture, a couple of pillows will do. This offers excellent support to the lower back and abdominal muscles as they lengthen out and relax. As you inhale, press your belly into the pillow. Exhale and soften down towards the floor.
  4. Viparita Karani. Most important is to be SURE the full length of your spine is pressing into the floor, as you settle into this deeply healing posture. Place a blanket under your head for maximum comfort and relaxation. When ready to come out, tuck your knees into your chest and roll to the right, into a fetal position. Press into your hands to lift up.

Stay in Viparita Karani, or Savasana, for as long as you like.

The beauty about yoga is that no matter your age, level of flexibility, experience with fitness, under the guidance of a qualified teacher you CAN benefit from the practice of yoga—even if you’re debilitatingly injured!

I wish you fruitful explorations on your path to optimum wellness!

Eryn Kirkwood is a local author and yoga teacher who specializes in classes for students aged 55 years and older. She offers a full schedule of classes at Barrhaven United Church in Nepean, along with workshops and other offerings! See ErynsYoga.com for more information.